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Mark Palangio

Name: Mark Palangio

Email address: markp (at) metal-observer (dot) com

Function: Reviewer

Compatible styles: Melodic Death Metal, Power Metal, Old School Heavy Metal, Death Metal, Prog Metal, Avant Garde Metal, some Black Metal, Neoclassical Shred/Instrumental Guitar

Incompatible styles: Hardcore, almost all Metalcore, Emo/Screamo, Nu-Metal

Thoughts on the main Metal genres:

Black Metal: I like Black Metal bands that actually take playing music seriously and have musical talent, not the ones that are just a joke and only exist to be tr00 and kvlt. That stuff is more comedy than music to me.

Death Metal: I prefer Death Metal with some groove to it like DYING FETUS and old SUFFOCATION. A lot of the brutal stuff all starts to sound too similar to me after a while. Melodic Death Metal is my area of expertise and definitely my favorite genre. I just love the mix of melody and low tuned distortion guitars. I’ve been obsessed ever since I heard “The Jester Race” by IN FLAMES.

Thrash Metal: I think most old Thrash Metal bands are really overrated. I like Thrash when the riffs actually have some groove and feeling, not just some random 250 bpm wankfest for 4 minutes straight. I know a ton of Metalheads think old school Thrash riffs are the epitome of true Metal, but I just never got too into many Thrash bands outside of MEGADETH, old METALLICA, KREATOR, and TESTAMENT.

Power Metal: Sort of like Black Metal in that it can be entirely too cheesy if it isn’t done right, but I really like most Power Metal. SONATA ARCTICA, EVERGREY, BLIND GUARDIAN, STRATOVARIUS, etc. Probably my second favorite genre.

Progressive Metal: As a guitar player, I love listening to most Prog Metal, just as long as it doesn’t get too ridiculously technical. SPIRAL ARCHITECT is a perfect example of a band with a ton of musical talent but they have no clue how to write a good, cohesive song. It’s the Prog Metal bands that really know how to compose a song that I enjoy. SYMPHONY X, old DREAM THEATER, OPETH, CYNIC (I guess they’re Prog?), PAGAN’S MIND, SPASTIK INK, etc.

Doom Metal: I don’t really listen to a lot of Doom Metal, but I love old MY DYING BRIDE stuff. “Turn Loose The Swans” and “As The Flower Withers” are amazing albums. I love the fact that they can get away with those album names just because the music is so damn heavy!

Gothic Metal: Never really cared too much about any Gothic Metal bands. I don’t really dislike any of it, I just find it fairly boring in general.

Melodic/Heavy Metal: IRON MAIDEN. Nothing else needs to be said. Best band ever as far as I’m concerned.

Nicknames: None really.

Time at TMO: Started October 2007

How came to TMO: Was asked to join the staff by Alex and gladly accepted!

The best thing as a TMO writer: Being able to write reviews that get read by so many people.

The worst thing as a TMO writer: Nothing so far!

Reviews 44
Underground 12
Interviews 0
Live reviews 0
Articles 0
Specials 0

Reviewing methods: I’ll usually listen to a CD straight through for a day or two after I get it. If I can’t remember much about each song after that, then the CD usually isn’t very good. If I have to go back and try to pick out good things about an album, that’s doesn’t say very much about it. I like albums that make you sit up and take notice of the songs when you listen to them.


Birthday: July 6, 1984

Birth town: Greensburg, PA, USA

Present location: Morgantown, WV, USA (attending West Virginia University)

Job: Student for now

Languages: English, some Japanese

Hobbies: Playing guitar, video games, TV, watching and betting on sports (football, baseball, and hockey), fantasy sports, buying and selling stuff on Ebay, and of course metal

Pet peeves: Smokers

Phobia(s): Heights. Ugh.

I, about myself: I’m currently a senior at West Virginia University majoring in journalism. After I graduate I’d like to write for a guitar or music magazine of some kind. I spend most of my time playing guitar and playing video games...and writing reviews!

Describe yourself in 5 words: Sarcastic, Funny, Punctual, Haggard, Witty

Funny childhood story: memory isn’t very good...


How I came into Heavy Metal: Back before I got into Metal, a friend of mine would always wear these crazy looking band t-shirts and I never had any idea who or what they were. I finally asked him one day about all the stuff he listened to, so he gave me IRON MAIDEN’s „Number Of The Beast“ album and told me to go home and listen to it. I fell in love as soon as „Invaders“ came on. I couldn’t believe I had never heard anything like that before. Everyday after that he gave me a new CD to take home and listen to. I’ve been hooked ever since.

First Metal CD ever bought: Either IRON MAIDEN – “The Number Of The Beast” or METALLICA – “Ride The Lightning”

Most embarrassing CD in your collection: I’d say either „Speak“ by Lindsay Lohan or „Frail Words Collapse“ by AS I LAY DYING. You decide which one is gayer.

First Metal concert: Not counting all the crappy local shows, Ozzfest in 2005.

What did Metal teach me about life: It pretty much taught me who I am. Before I listened to Metal I didn’t really listen to any music at all and I didn’t really have an identity either. Being exposed to Metal and the tight knit community of Metalheads really made me realize what I had been missing out on. I couldn’t even imagine where I would be right now if I wouldn’t have got into Metal.

Favourite music listening place and why? In my room where I can sit and really immerse myself in the music with no distractions.

Most prized Metal possession? I used to own the guitar that Peter Wichers used to record part of SOILWORK’s “The Chainheart Machine” album, and he also used it on the tour for that album as well. I sold it like an idiot though.


Band & previous band experiences: Working on a solo project at the moment. Should be done with it sometime soon...maybe?

Instrumental talents: Guitar

Favourite bands: Iron Maiden, Carcass, Soilwork, Arch Enemy, In Flames, The Absence, Death, At The Gates, Dan Swano, Queensryche, Savatage, Arsis, Enforsaken, Eric Johnson, Michael Schenker

Least favourite bands: Too many to name, pretty much any newer Metalcore bands.

Sound you’d like to have banned: If we’re talking about all styles of music, definitely rap. As far as Metal goes, I’d say any band that thinks they’re IRON MAIDEN but don’t have any talent. (Yeah I’m talking to you AS I LAY DYING.)

Most overrated bands: Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Machine Head, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, U2, Black Label Society, Judas Priest, most old school Thrash Metal bands

Most underrated bands: Any of Dan Swanö’s 20-30 various bands, Sigh, Daita, old Soilwork, Enforsaken, Pete Lesperance/Harem Scarem, Spiritual Beggars, Guthrie Govan, The Crown, James Murphy

Most influential band: Iron Maiden. They’re the reason I picked up a guitar and got into Metal.

Favourite musician: Michael Amott, my guitar hero.

Favourite album cover: Either ARCH ENEMY’s „Black Earth“ or „Riders Of The Plague“ by THE ABSENCE

10 favourite albums:


1. Arch Enemy - Stigmata

The best melodic Death Metal album ever written in my opinion. It might not be the most influential, but it definitely tops my list. From start to finish this album is flawless. Every riff, harmony and solo is perfectly written. I can honestly sit and listen to this album for months at a time, it never gets old. ARCH ENEMY was a far better band with Johan Liiva on vocals. They’ll never top this album and in my mind, I doubt any other Metal band will either.


2. Soilwork - A Predator’s Portrait

I go back and forth between this album and “Steelbath Suicide” as to which SOILWORK album I like best, but I always seem to come back to “A Predator’s Portrait” just because of how mature it sounds. I don’t think any other bands sound the same as SOILWORK did back in their prime, they just had such a unique style. I can’t really even describe it. The guitar work on this album is just entirely too good and I love how each song is about a different type of serial killer. Doesn’t get much more Metal than that does it? I think not!


3. Carcass- Heartwork

One of the most legendary Metal albums of all time. Bill Steer and Mike Amott were one of the best Metal guitar duos ever and this album proves it. The riffs on this album are untouchable. Some of the best ever written. So heavy and so melodic. Perfect balance between the two.


4. In Flames - The Jester Race

The first melodic Death Metal album I was exposed to way back when I first got into Metal. At the time it was the weirdest sounding music I had ever heard, but I was so fascinated with it. The riffs on this album are classic melodic Death Metal. A perfect example of the best the genre has to offer.


5. Iron Maiden - Brave New World

There’s just something about this album that I’ve always loved. The songs are so catchy and melodic, but still have that classic MAIDEN feel to them. It was great to see Bruce come back to the band and prove that they were still the best Metal band ever.


6. Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime

Another amazing guitar duo (Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo) and another legendary Metal album. I knew from the first time I heard this album that it was something really special. Meaningful lyrics and epic vocals by Geoff Tate paired with the ripping guitar playing of Wilton and DeGarmo is a tough combo to beat. The whole concept of this album is incredible when you really sit down and start to figure out what it’s all about.


7. Dan Swanö - Moontower

Dan Swanö is the most impressive musician that I’ve ever come across. The sheer amount of great bands he’s been a part of is staggering. The fact that those bands cover so many different styles is even more impressive than the fact that he plays almost every instrument known to man. “Moontower” is just a masterpiece, plain and simple. Sit down with this album and read along with the lyrics sometime. Anyone who says metal doesn’t have any emotion or feeling obviously hasn’t heard this album.


8. Savatage - Edge Of Thorns

One of the best guitar albums I’ve ever heard. Criss Oliva (R.I.P.) absolutely rips on this album. Every song is so powerful with killer riffs and incredible lead playing. I always thought Zak Stevens was a better vocalist than Jon Oliva as well. The solo in “He Carves His Stones” is my favorite guitar solo ever. Just ridiculous.


9. Eric Johnson - Venus Isle

When I was going through my shred guitar phase, this was one album that really stood out to me. It’s definitely not a shred album, but Johnson is hands down one of the best guitarists on the planet and he gets mentioned along with shred guys like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani a lot. The thing that really sets this album apart for me is Johnson’s vocals. They fit his guitar playing style brilliantly. Every song on this album just flows so well. This is another album that just never gets old. 


10. Blind Guardian - Nightfall In Middle Earth

One of the first Power Metal albums I had ever heard and still my favorite to this day. I never really follow along with the little story segments because I can’t wait to get to the songs themselves. This album just has a frantic pace (in a good way) and just never lets up. Hansi’s vocals are some of the best I’ve ever heard and the guitar playing is out of this world. The only way to describe this album is epic.


Favourite films: A Clockwork Orange, The Good The Bad And The Ugly, pretty much every James Bond movie

Favourite books: Marine Sniper, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, most Tom Clancy stuff

Favourite food: General Tso’s Chicken

Favourite drink: Iced Tea

Favourite smokes: Don’t smoke. Never have, never will.

Which song should be played at your funeral? “Funeral In Space” by ARMAGGEDON. Absolutely beautiful song.

Idol (s): Michael Amott, Dave Murray, Peter Wichers, Fredrik Nordström, Dan Swanö, Itaru Kanno (Caparison Guitars)

Person you‘d like to meet: Any of my idols listed above.

Catchphrase: Pretty sure I don’t have one?

Biggest thrill in life (so far): Seeing IRON MAIDEN live!

Goal in life: To be in a band that gets signed to a major label.

Secret: Wouldn’t be much of a secret if I told you now would it?!

5 favourite links:








Mark Palangio

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